When it comes to cleaning household sustainability-viewpoint always attacks cleaning agents /soaps/detergents but never takes a look at the tool used to apply these chemicals –“Microfiber Cleaning Accessories “, which include utensil scrub pads too. There are dusting cloths , hand-gloves for dusting, car-cleaning cloths, floor cleaning mops with microfiber heads and now bath towels too. They are a craze and quite expensive too. Convenient too as it has great absorption ,stainfree and quick drying property. One can also say that it lasts long so it’s very sustainable.
It may have all benefits but “Its disastrous for environment”. They have done enough damage already and should be banned immediately.
Microfiber cloths, apparently look like fabric but are actually made of polyester and nylon, or in other words, plastic. This implies that at the end of its life, its neither recyclable nor compostable. They do reduce use of paper wipes but when washed, microfiber fabrics shed tiny little particles called microfibers, which belong in the same breath as microbead and have already damaged our oceans. They can not be separated in sewage treatment plant and invade our water bodies, aquatic life and then us through food chain.
When put along other clothes in washing machines these fibres stick to other clothes and cause allergic reactions to people wearing them. These are not recyclable and end up in landfills.
One can only avoid them by returning back to traditional cleaning clothes made of natural fibre. Question comes do they give similar kind of cleaning and the answer is yes. Choosing materials with some common sense for different applications will get all the work done in the same way. Soft thin cotton cloth or thick denim material for mops all can be made from old clothes which are not fit for anyone’s use. Grand mothers used to make kitchen dusters from old torn bed sheets and floor wipes with old cotton towels. That was sustainable as these cloths were repurposed for many years more. Most importantly they did not release plastic microfibers in water. One can simple cut and sew square dusters from old clothes , making multiple for different uses. Here is one way with a little more in removing dust in eco-friendly way. >>
Mopping or floor cleaning too can be done without microfiber cloth. I have found old torn denims work wonders in removing dirt from floor. Be it traditional way of mopping with hand or using a mop made out of denim cloth. Here are some old photographs where I first started on this kind of mop.
I used the pocket of my denims as cleaning gloves. Works even after 10 years now.
One video I liked on making such mops though I prefer denim as it lasts for years.>>
Some more ideas from FB which can be followed using different fibres.
Another culprit which look different but belong to same microfiber family is in the kitchen ‘The Scrub Pad’.
A family of four having three meals at home uses almost a new one every month(more so in Indian cooking). This means 12 such pads per family going to landfill annually and rest of the calculation is left to the reader.
You must have heard grand generation talking about the quality of steel utensils being very good in their generation and the current one looses its shine and lustre very quickly. Well that’s not completely due to quality. Its due to these scrub pads gives ‘micro-scratches ‘ in steel per wash and steel then looses the shine.
We do have an alternative to the current scrub pad, the traditional one in a new avatar – coconut scrub pads. No compromise on cleaning and completely degradable.
Look for hidden plastics and avoid using them . Save Oceans and Save food chains !!